Monday, 21 August 2017

Facebook: giving authors a human face

Last week, we had a look at how valuable Twitter can be for authors, even for big names like JK Rowling and Ian Rankin. But what about the other social media giant, Facebook? How useful is having a Facebook page to a writer or publisher? And how can Facebook be of help to authors through other means?

We at Sunpenny have a Facebook page where we share our blog posts, promote our books and post other items from our authors. We have a good reach and our posts are shared on several other pages too. In fact, Facebook is used by businesses all over the world as the 'human' side of their companies. It's somewhere customers can get in touch with the company's personnel promptly and directly. Being a business as well, this is what Sunpenny as a publisher does too. However, what about authors? Is Facebook different from Twitter in its purpose and reach?

Perhaps it's worth mentioning that on Twitter, there are no limitations as to who can follow an author or re-tweet their messages. In principle, one author's tweet could read thousands of people who have never heard of him or her before. The potential to reach new audiences is therefore great although much of it is down to chance.

On Facebook, however,  authors' followers are nearly always people who know and enjoy their work or at the very least, have heard of the authors and know what they do - much like the customers of a business. It is a place where readers can keep up with an author's latest news and express their appreciation. In that sense, it is much more focused than Twitter and what in theory can happen is that a reader might discover an author on Twitter, become a fan and then follow them on Facebook.

Does this mean that Facebook is not a place for authors to find new readers, though? No, it doesn't.  Facebook has many other opportunities for authors in the form of 'group pages'. There are Facebook groups for readers and writers of several genres and this can be a valuable way of reaching new audiences. There are groups for crime fiction, groups for location fiction, groups for Christian fiction and groups for romantic fiction. There also groups for non-fiction, especially for memoir writers. Several of our authors belong to such groups and have found they can become known in this way too. That said, there are also groups for writers themselves. It's worth mentioning that writers are great readers and if they like another author's books, they will often be generous in buying, reading and reviewing.

Nevertheless, the key to all social media is not in the numbers of followers, likes and friends per se. It is in the personal touch. Social media is not a replacement for face-to-face contact, but if the author presents him or herself as approachable, friendly, communicative and supportive, both Twitter and Facebook can be a very worthwhile means of interacting with readers and followers when personal contact isn't possible.

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